Veterinary Inflation Observations

Have you been wondering recently why your veterinary care feels like it costs so much more than it used to? You are not alone.

I was digging into the inflation numbers over at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and I was fascinated by the difference between veterinary inflation (yes, they do track such a thing!) and the consumer price inflation.

For example (see graph below), if I look at January 2007 to March 2011 (just about as long as we've been selling pet insurance policies), while my wages went up 10% over that time (yay!), my vet bills went up 25% in the same period (ouch!). Vet bills are definitely taking up more of a bite out of my free cash than they used to. 

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Bald spot at vaccination site on a dog

We recently had a question on the Embrace Facebook page about  a bald spot on a dog:

Q: It turns out that a tiny bald spot on my daughter's dog is likely a result of the rabies vaccine. She may or may not grow her hair back. The vet doesn't think she should get rabies vaccines again. Anybody know how to regrow hair or anybody have a dog regrow hair after this happened to them?

Since I'm not a veterinarian, I turned to Dr Rex Riggs, one of our veterinary advisors, for help with this question.

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Claim Example: allergies in a dog

What does 3 years of allergy treatment cost?  $2,500 and climbing. Ouch.

As an example of the cost of general allergies in a dog, I found Jack, a mixed breed dog born in 2005 who has suffered from allergies since 2008. He lives in Dallas TX, so while not an inexpensive city to live in for veterinary care, certainly not the most expensive.

Here are his charges related to allergies over the last 3 years (he tore his cruciate ligament early on as well - he's had a lot of health issues going on.)

Date of Visit Claim Status Diagnosis Covered Amount Paid
4/8/2008 Paid colitis 131.00 117.90
4/16/2008 Paid allergies 99.00 89.10
5/7/2008 Paid allergies, diarrhea, ear infection 164.50 148.05
6/13/2008 Paid allergies 77.00 69.30
7/1/2008 Paid allergic dermatitis 252.00 226.80
8/20/2008 Paid allergy flare up 99.00 89.10
9/23/2008 Deduct allergy flare up 44.00 0.00
11/1/2008 Paid allergies 74.95 17.05
4/10/2009 Paid Allergy Testing 265.00 238.50
4/24/2009 Paid Allercept Allergy Initial Treatment 200.50 180.45
5/28/2009 Paid Allergic Otitis 45.00 40.50
6/30/2009 Paid Medications, Allergy 156.00 140.40
12/29/2009 Paid Medications, Allergy 156.00 50.40
6/28/2010 Paid Medications, Allergy 168.30 151.47
1/14/2011 Paid Allergy Refill Treatment Set 165.50 58.95
1/20/2011 Paid Skin Lesion, Pain Instability 117.00 105.30
3/22/2011 Paid Allergy Flare Up 194.23 174.81
4/15/2011 Paid Superficial External Otitis 83.20 74.88
Total     2,492.18 1,972.96

Jack's pet insurance policy costs $64.31 a month for a $100 annual deductible, 10% copay percentage, $10,000 annual maximum with prescription drug coverage.  

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Can dogs be allergic to bee and yellow jacket stings?

Amazingly, yes! Maybe it's just me, but I thought that only people succumbed to such things but dogs and cats can be allergic to insect stings just like humans can.

We recently had an example of Chloe, a 6 month old Bulldog, who was in the garden where there were yellow jackets flying around and it appears she was stung and her face became severely swollen. Poor baby!

Charles, her pet parent, took her to the emergency room and they treated her with epinephrine (opens airway and improves blood pressure) and diphenhydramine (slower acting antihistamine).

10/29/2010 Emergency Exam $105.00 $105.00
10/29/2010 Epinephrine 1:1000 30ml/ml $42.75 $42.75
10/29/2010 Diphenhydramine Injection $42.75 $42.75
10/29/2010 Hospitalization $42.00 $42.00
Total   $232.50 $232.50

Here's how her $200 annual deductible and 20% copay worked for Chloe's pet insurance policy:

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Guest Post: Allergies in Pets

Today, we have a guest post from Dr. Rex Riggs on the topic of allergies. Ironically, Dr. Riggs is allergic to cats! But he does talk about how allergies happen and what can be done about them. Dr. Rex Riggs is the owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is a veterinarian, and an Advisory Board member of Embrace Pet Insurance.

Allergies. I hate allergies. I have tree pollen allergies in the spring. I have grass allergies in the summer and house dust mite allergies all winter long. To cap it all off, I have cat allergies all year long! Oh well, it is what it is.

And What Exactly Are Allergies?

Allergies are bad for everyone including our pets. 

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